SUMMIT — A flat tire on a tractor trailer Tuesday night led to a fire that affected Wednesday morning's commute on Route 78.

After the driver of the truck pulled over to the eastbound shoulder near Glenside Avenue in Summit  to check the flat around 10:15 p.m., the fire quickly spread to the rest of the truck, igniting 63,000 pounds of laundry product, according to State Police spokesman Lt. Ted Schafer.

Schafer said the fire created a mess with debris spread over two lanes. Summit firefighters brought in a backhoe to clean up the trailer after it collapsed and also pick up the debris.

The fire was brought under control by 1:30 a.m.  but the cleanup of ice and debris that formed on the highway lasted well into the morning drive, Schafer said. Eastbound traffic was backed up for several miles along with Route 22 which picked up extra volume.

The driver of the truck was not injured in the fire and no other vehicles were involved.

Schafer said officers will pull over trucks they notice with flat tires, because drivers often don't know about the flats — especially when an inner tire is affected. The heat of the rubber flapping on the pavement causes fire to quickly develop, especially if the brake lines are affected.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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